PUBLIC ENEMY presents four charismatic and influential Americans who have been leading wildly dissimilar lives, yet they have one thing in common: they are all former members of the Black Panther Party - the radical black liberation movement that confronted racial and economic inequality in 1960s mainstream America.
A film about the revolutionaries after the revolution, PUBLIC ENEMY focuses on the personal lives, past and present, of four Panther Party members - prisoner-turned-playwright Jamal Joseph; musician and record producer, Nile Rodgers (Chic, Sister Sledge); law professor and lecturer Kathleen Cleaver; and the last surviving founding member, Bobby Seale.
Through candid conversations, the promise and limitations of attempting revolutionary change are expressed: What were the Party's long-term effects on African Americans and their status in society? How did the Black Panther Party impact popular culture? How did these leaders' involvement personally affect them - their hopes, their dreams? And after tumultuous years of being viewed by the FBI as "the greatest internal threat to the nation," how does America perceive them today?
Interlacing archival protest footage with recent interviews, the film examines black America today, 25 years after the demise of its most radical advocates. At a time when black culture - and the social gap between whites and blacks - is more prominent than ever before, PUBLIC ENEMY is a provocative interpretation of the dark side of the American Dream.
"Recommended! Vivid!"—Educational Media Reviews Online
2001 Black Panther Film Festival
2000 Human Rights Watch International Film Festival (New York)
2000 Juneteenth Film Festival (Minneapolis)
2000 Venice International Film Festival
2000 Chicago International Film Festival
2000 Amsterdam International Film Festival
"A thoughtful, moving primer on the Black Panther Party. The film has punchy archival footage of Panther rallies and police brutality, but the heart of the matter lies in informal interviews with the four former Panthers... all who question whether (they) really made a difference in the course of the civil rights struggle."—The Village Voice
"Young viewers will receive a history lesson and older folks will rediscover a turbulent period as they revisit the civil rights movement. The old phrase, 'Power to the People' says it all."—The Christian Science Monitor
"In the wake of incidents of racially motivated police brutality, the message of their movement still resonates."—Amsterdam News